Birding

Day 33: Bird Invasion

The first nap of the Big Year is interrupted by a particularly needy Amazonian Motmot.

February 2, 2015, Chapada dos Guimaraes, Brazil — This morning Giuliano, Bianca and I targeted an area of nice Cerrado habitat and were in position at sunrise to hear the dawn chorus. We spent a productive couple of hours wandering down a dirt road through low, scrubby trees, enjoying birds like Rusty-backed Antwren, White-eared Puffbird, White-rumped Tanager, Coal-crested Finch, and a heard-only Pheasant Cuckoo. When things got hot around 9 a.m., activity died and we repositioned to a denser, shadier area of nearby forest for a while before heading back to Giuliano’s dad’s place for rice, beans, a dip in the waterfall, and a siesta.

I actually set an alarm for a one-hour nap after lunch, my first nap of the year! But, after 20 minutes, I awoke to a commotion of shouting and footsteps in the house: An Amazonian Motmot had flown inside and got trapped in the kitchen. I held the bird for a while before letting it go; it was interesting to inspect such a beautiful creature up close. Should have known the birds wouldn’t let me sleep.

In late afternoon Guiliano, Bianca, and I planned to look for a Blue Finch and Crested Black-Tyrant at a nearby cliff overlook, and their dad (who is an agroforestry consultant, and studies diversity and productivity in Brazil’s woodlands) decided to come with us to watch the sunset. We found the finch and tyrant relatively quickly, and the four of us spent the rest of the evening perched on a rock with about 200 Biscutate Swifts swirling noisily around us as they went into their roost. Supposedly, this overlook, near the town of Chapada dos Guimaraes, is the exact geographic center of South America (halfway between the north and south and the east and west). As the sun disappeared behind a thunderhead, it was odd to think that, by the time it sets again tomorrow, I’ll be way up in northern Brazil at the mouth of the Amazon!

Biscutate Swifts swooping toward their cliffside roost at dusk. Photo: Photo by Noah Strycker

New birds today: 18

Year list: 762

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